Thursday, 4 August 2016

The Birth Part 1: Have a little patience

Life can be a hell of a slog sometimes, but every now and then it is punctuated with mind-blowingly brilliant moments which will stay with you forever. Days when everything falls into place, events take your breath away and you genuinely can’t believe what has just happened. January 24th 2015 was one of those days.

It had been a difficult period but things were turning a corner and this was one of the surest signs yet that everything was looking rosy once again. Maybe there would be a happy ending after all.

Middlesbrough beat Manchester City 2-0 in the FA Cup 3rd Round at the Etihad Stadium, sending shockwaves around the world* in the process.

Oscar and Isabel were born the day before too, which was also admittedly a big deal.

While I would love to dwell on the finer points of Lee Tomlin turning Vincent Kompany inside out, I realise that isn’t what people have been coming to this blog for (as far as I’m aware). As such, I’ll focus on the story of when our babies came into the world – a story which, in all honesty, had a bit of a false start.

Meat Loaf, Community and waiting

As mentioned last time, twin pregnancies are treated as high-risk and as such there’s an appetite to get those little blighters out into the world earlier than in a single pregnancy. After weeks of tension – Is something happening? Is anything happening? Are they coming or what? – we agreed to an induction date in Week 38.

This meant we went to Leeds General Infirmary on Thursday 22nd January. Excitement was at fever pitch at this point – there we were, in the maternity ward on the morning, ready to go. This is it! C’mon!

What we didn’t realise was how things were going to work while we were there. We had a set date for induction, but Ana being seen was dependent on how busy the ward was on that day. Basically, with every emergency or patient heading into the final stages of labour, we were bumped down the list of priorities. Rightly, of course – I’m not that much of a selfish arsehole.

As a result, apart from a highly enjoyable playback of the full 12-minute version of I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) by Meat Loaf on some headphones and watching the best episode of Community we’ve ever seen, nothing happened on the Thursday. A whole day just sat there.

I went home on the evening where Mum was holding the fort, knowing I’d get a call as soon as Ana was top of the list.

Wake-up call

Well, I didn’t bloody expect the wake-up call at 3.20am on Friday mind. What was the NHS thinking?!

After a quick shower to get the senses stirring, I was in a taxi to the LGI. At 4.20am, Ana was induced and literally within the hour contractions had started.

Following her time with the Calm Birth School, Ana had sorted a birth plan to be passed on to the relevant nurses etc. As such, and as per her instructions, our delivery room was a place of quiet and calm.

Curtains were drawn, the lights were off and we all talked in hushed tones. Her iPod also played gently in the background. There was also no talk of ‘pain’, with Ana preferring the contractions to be seen as bodily ‘surges’ which increased in ‘intensity’, rather than the p-word. She was also keen to try to avoid pain relief, and initially only had a TENS machine for company.

For the uninitiated, this is a little contraption which uses electrical pulses to reduce pain, via pads placed on the person in question. One of my key jobs early doors was to, on Ana’s mark, switch the machine on and off while she focused on the task at hand.

So, this is the situation we found ourselves in and, while it must have been a truly intense experience for my good lady wife, it was a little odder for me.

Supporting role

Ultimately, I was there to be supportive and do whatever I could, but it was fairly apparent very quickly that really wasn’t going to be much. Pressing a button on a machine, offering water and kind words when I could, changing the music when the iPod playlist proved considerably too short for the occasion.

The only other things I recall doing were heading to the in-hospital Costa for lunch (panini, since you ask – I also bought Ana one and ate it, whoopsy) and checking if Ana could hear certain songs from her iPod. Oops I Did It Again by Britney even elicited a smidgen of finger-dancing from the heavily-pregnant heroine of our tale. Great effort.

Midwives were on hand at all times and we had four hourly checks to see how matters were progressing. Frankly, for the first eight hours they weren’t, which is why recommendations were made to introduce a hormone to try and get things moving a little more. This was added at a small level initially so Ana could cope with the intensity, but when again nothing had changed further action was suggested.

The medical professionals wanted the hormone level increased, but anymore would be too intense for Ana to take. At 8pm, 16 hours on from the induction, we made the unavoidable decision that if the hormone was going up, an epidural was the only way to go…

Yes, this is a bit of a tale. So, I wondered what would Peter Jackson or George RR Martin or one of those types do in my position?

As such, I’ve cut the whole story in half to make it a little more digestible. This is the end of part one, but part two is now live here. So carry on if you’d like, or have a breather if the tension is getting too much. To whet your appetite, here's a picture of me in scrubs...

You're welcome

*Actually the world wasn’t bothered, as Bradford City beat Chelsea on the same day and everyone cared more about that. Typical Boro, causing an upset on the wrong day. Oh, you don’t care? Never mind.

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